Free iPhone Apps I Love for Travel

This past week an extended business trip to Providence, Rhode Island – a city I had never visited, coupled with a group of fellow conventioneers with whom I had little or no previous knowledge — led me to rely almost purely on my iPhone for navigation, restaurants, event opportunities, and . . . contact with my expanding online community.  Here are 10 free Apps that, today, I appreciate and think could add value to your next travel experience, whether you’re going to to a new chow spot in your neighborhood, or taking off on a cross-country trek.

Some people might want to break their App love into the same, or similar, categories Apple uses to organize them, but for me, I am going to keep it simple: 10 apps that made my iPhone the second most important tool on my trip.  It was second only to my iPhone charger.  Period. Continue reading


In Memory

On January 30, 1983, Geraldine Barnes Brandon departed this life, leaving a legacy that out-shined her mortal light, which was extinguished at the age of 49.  Her four children, Kathy Archer, of Midlothian; Alvin Brandon, Jr., of Chesterfield; Kevin Brandon, of Ballwin, MO; and Matthew Brandon, of Lynchburg; son-in-law, daughters-in-law; four siblings; and a host of grandchildren honor her life and love as we strive to give more to this world than we take from it.  And thus she lives on in each of us: a light unto our path in our journey with our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Rest in peace, Nana.

This tribute will appear in the Sunday, January 31 Richmond Times-Dispatch.

2010 Resolutions: Give Less and Get More Out of It

In 2010, I resolve to use the power of LESS to gain MORE.  I also resolve to stay committed to One Small Thing.


In 2009, I held up my end of the resolution bargain by applying my own approach to improving my fitness, and focusing on work and family.  I wanted to lose weight, and using the “One Small Thing” approach, lost net 15 pounds.  That pales in comparison to the 30 total pounds I lost by mid-May, but it far exceeds any past year’s performance compared to goal.

I wanted to do better at a new set of duties at work, and believe the results have shown I succeeded.  I also like to think I made some choices that made my family happier — vacations when I otherwise might have shrugged it off to save money;  being flexible when I might have preferred to dictate; supporting a flourishing entrepreneur/wife who dearly wanted to add business ownership to the daunting lead roles she already plays as the family Chief Operating Officer.

So, how do I follow that up?  I recommit to One Small Thing.  And second, I give less to get more.

Continue reading

Tiger Woods: a study in failing your unforgivingly adoring public; or why PR is important

If you have ever wanted a case study in how petty and fickle the American public and media are about celebrities’ fame, just look at the scrutiny and criticism Tiger Woods is enduring after what amounts to a wacky accident.  With little factual evidence to support it, every national media outlet from the Today Show, to the National Enquirer to the East Sheboygan Cougar newsletter is reveling in the wrecked front end of Tiger’s Cadillac SUV.

Few public opinion leaders consider this a private matter, despite the fact that it happened on private property, in a gated community, in the early morning darkness of Black Friday.  And despite the fact that it was a single vehicle incident.  And despite the fact that he has complied with Florida’s incident reporting requirements.

It seems clear to me that he has finally shown a degree of . . . humanness that his gleeful critics can swarm around and chew on greedily.  Unfortunately, his million-dollar handlers have failed miserably as they backtrack, stumble and grope, and otherwise flail toward a plausible explanation.

Perhaps because their own livelihood hinges on Tiger’s sterling public image, or their acquiescence with his demands, it seems his “team” is using tactics that only invite more scrutiny and distrust.

Whether the result of a domestic feud, or his body fat percentage dipping precipitously low, Tiger’s most recent weekend green-side duel shows that even he is susceptible to inferior guidance and public gaffes.  In the first public relations course most students take, sage past practitioners extoll the virtues of candor and quick control of messy PR issues.  Even by this elementary tactical decision, Tiger’s “people” failed him.  And ultimately, his delicate position atop the marketing mountain of gold may be modestly damaged by their inability to humanize their client, and give him an authentic, honest, human persona during this crisis.  That, he could survive.

And shame on them, because ultimately, an “adoring” but publicity-addicted public is likely to forget about, or forgive, Tiger for a domestic transgression against his wife.  But they simply cannot forget Tiger lying to them.  To violate a private trust can be understood.  But to violate the trust of your adoring public is unforgivable.  Heaven forbid the adoring public  should no longer enjoy the . . . intimacy of totally understanding the Billionaire Next Door.  I mean, we buy AT&T cell phones and Tag Heuer watches because of this guy.  Even a glancing blow at the real cause of the accident would allow us to let it go.  His PR team should trust the pace of today’s sports news cycle to relegate this to the middle of the trash heap within hours.  Instead, their antics are keeping right at the forefront.

Whatever public humiliation and financial setbacks Tiger will suffer because of this, his PR team should suffer the most for leading him down a path that takes him farther away from the supposed trust he has asked fans, wealthy shoppers and investors to share with him.

Tiger, so the public sentiment seems to say, can lie to his wife.  But he can’t lie to his fans.  The relationships at home are much more forgiving than those you share with the public.  That is what top PR pros get paid to tell high-profile clients, like Tiger Woods.

Things that will improve your life! Advice I am giving myself.

You have to read this if you need a lift, or some encouragement to make the most of life instead of letting life take the most from you.

A few phenomenal questions for leaders

Whether you have been at the top of your org-chart for years, or are still hoping for a shot at being “buck-stop” for your organization, it takes constant attention to sharpening your skill set, balancing sharing your vision with ensuring effective execution, and straddling that fine line between inspiring and motivating versus coddling and enabling. 

One of my main inspirations, Christine Kennedy, a leader among leaders and vice president of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, posted a Twitter update that linked me to a Michael Smith’s 20 questions to ask other leaders, as presented by Michael Hyatt on his blog.  I highlight a few of my favorite questions here, and might even post my own thoughts on a few of them in the coming days.

  • As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
  • How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
  • How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”?
  • How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the “core values”?
  • How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
  • What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
  • What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?
  • What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
  • Bonus Question: What do you like to ask other leaders when you get the chance?
  • A day in my life

    Often, readers come to “know” online personalities by the words they write online.  But they rarely get to see life more literally through the web relationship.  Today, since my “world” is in one of its most remarkable visual phases, I thought it would be fun to share some of the sights you would encounter if you spent the day hanging out with me.

    The first set is a day on the job.  I definitely have an all-American beauty as a home base.

    For larger images, click here.